New IT-inventions in the end always make users to fundamentally change their behavior: the PC for the first time allowed sitting at a computer at home; Internet provides users with information for business and communication with companions anywhere in the world; mobile Internet, in its turn, allowed to be connected and have access to the data almost always and everywhere. Finally, the plethora of existing mobile chat applications – hybrid, cross platform and native - freed users from having to depend on the mobile operators for messaging. The next step is the addition of multimedia capabilities to chat applications.
In 2015 appeared and continues to develop another of futuristic trends - chat-bots - expert systems that can serve as entertainment, first step in the user problems diagnosis or interactive assistants.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into this rabbit hole and try to discover what a mobile chat app is.
What features the modern successive instant messengers contain?
Two of the most popular messengers today are LINE and WhatsApp. Both are created by startups in their time. Japanese messenger LINE was originally designed as a means of rapid communication in case of emergency after the earthquake in Tohoku in 2011. Over time, it has evolved into a social gaming platform. WhatsApp is a native instant messaging app with advanced multimedia features. According to the company WhatsApp Inc., on February 2016 the number of monthly active users has exceeded one billion. (Source - Statista).
What kinds of features the successful chat-app should have?
A possible list of such features includes:
• Event management and calendar synchronization;
• VoIP phone calls;
• Video chats;
• Group calls (including group video calls);
• Encrypted chats;
• Self-destructing messages;
• Geolocation integration;
• Cloud services synchronization (for the sent user files storage);
• Support for various data formats (text, video, audio, emoticons, pictures, photographs, stickers etc.)
If you have an idea for an Android chat app development but lack necessary programming skills you can request the chat app development for iOS and Android with our help and start right away. The message app development is possible with the use of the iOS, Android and Native React technologies.Let’s review some of the prospective real time chat app traits taking WhatsApp as example
Main WhatsApp features:
• Account management, Facebook authorization routine implementation.
• Server backend for messages and media sync between devices.
• Contact management – import/export, sync with device’s contact storage/cloud accounts, modifying, grouping, black- and whitelisting.
• Offline, server and cloud data storage/backup.
• Contact and location sharing.
• Message search.
• Delivery and reading confirmations.
• PUSH- and in-app notifications about app events.
• Pictures upload/download.
• Friend adding/server catalogue search.
• Media sending (emoticons, stickers, pictures, audio, video, documents, files).
• Voice calls/group voice calls.
• Contacts/message marking.
• Device’s calendar sync (appointments/meetings/reminders).
• End-to-end conversation encryption.
WhatsApp’s impressive functionality can be easily implemented in a newly developed chat application quickly and with the expanded aspects, thanks to the React Native technology. Generally applications like this have to be designed with the use of native technologies exactly because of their vast number of features. Only native applications can support numerous functions while maintaining the low resource consumption and smooth operation.
WhatsApp’s business model
When WhatsApp first appeared in 2010, it was a paid application costing $2,99 per download. The users that bought WhatsApp when it just appeared continued to use the messenger free of charge even after the business model had changed in 2011 – user could download the application and use it for the first year free of charge. All the next years the annual fee would be $0,99. In January 2016 WhatsApp’s business model changed again – currently the app’s download and usage are completely free while the company’s engineers are busy researching prospective monetizing ways.
WhatsApp’s application architecture
If you’re interested in how to create a chat app for IOS, WhatsApps architecture is pretty indicative. WhatsApp utilizes the custom version of Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). Device’s main phone number is used to create the user account login, JabberID that looks like <phone_number>@s.whatsapp.com; random password for the first login is generated by server. This is why despite the PC-compatible WhatsApp version, WhatsApp Web, exists, first registration should be done with the use of smartphone. Next, the app scans the phone’s contact book, comparing the stored numbers with the server user catalogue and adding found matches to WhatsApp’s contact list.
Instant messenger’s key performance indicators (KPIs):
• Number of active users;
• Retention rate;
• Audience engagement.
Those indicators are often used to evaluate the successfulness of instant messengers and their business performance.
How much does it cost to create your own chat app?
How much does it cost to build an app like WhatsApp? We attribute the basic WhatsApp clone applications (such as WhatsApp was in 2010) to the simple level of difficulty, so prices for their creation are quite democratic.
The price of building a mobile chat app is made up of several components:
• UI/UX design - up to 150 hours;
• Development - up to 900 hours, plus 25% of PM and QA services.
Considering this, the medium development price would score around $45000- $55000 for a simple app.
In its current state, WhatsApp has 6 years of constant progress and expansion behind and refers rather to highly complex applications. Developing similar chat app from a scratch would take longer – 4-6 months at average with a chat app development cost range of $55000-$150000.
Read also: cost to design an app
It should be noted that a big plus to messenger’s maintenance is that it requires hiring only a minimum team. For example, one of the WhatsApp’s chat app developers maintains on average about 20-21 million of active users.
Thus, after the creation of the application support costs are reduced practically to zero, all the funds can be spent on the product expansion and promotion. This will allow you to focus on app improvement and collaboration with partners.
Read also: how much does it cost to make an app
What are the options for the monetization of instant messengers?
Popular chat apps are characterized by a large audience and high user activity. However, upon their evolution, they are faced with a common problem – the monetization.
This is where different companies go for varying approaches:
• Some employ paid subscriptions;
• Some build social platforms;
• Some believe that monetization is something that needs least consideration or is unneeded at all.
Messengers works for millions of users who actively use the service every day. More often than messaging, smartphone owners use only social networks and games. However, in contrast to the social networks that are constantly expanding their functionality, instant messengers are limited to one simple task – message exchange, in one form or another. The basic screen here is the conversation.
Due to this reason, the messengers are not accommodated to the standard advertising model. If in social media the ad post in the news feed may be perceived by users as adequate, there is a little space for it in messengers: the smartphone canvas is small, the context is wrong and there is lack of targeting.
Paid stickers and gaming content (in-app purchases)
Integration with other services
• Credit cards
• Business Applications
• Corporate segment
Monetizing a successful messenger can be amazingly profitable – for instance, LINE earns around $10 mln per month selling stickers and in-game merchandises, while Snapchat gains a minimum of $250000 daily selling ad views at their Discover platform.
Virality or viral promotion effect
How do startupers promote their applications? Get people to talk and write about, and share the app with their friends?
Viral effect is everything that is connected to the fact that people attract each other into your application, your game. This is the most important element, which many businessmen stake at as much as possible.
In this article we examined how to develop a mobile chat app, its possible features, discussed the cost of a development of similar application and monetization potentials. If you have an idea for such application, our managers are ready to discuss with you the merits of your ideas and ways of their realization.